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April 12, 2023

Why Review Recency Is Important and How to Maintain It

Consumers especially trust reviews that are written in the past two weeks. That's why your business should prioritize review recency in your review generation strategy.

What is review recency?

Customers and prospects browsing review sites for your business will look for and primarily trust reviews written recently, that is, written sometime in the past two weeks. According to a study by Brightlocal, 73% of consumers consider review recency a significant factor when deciding which local business to use.

What’s “recent” is always changing, which means that maintaining a consistent review frequency is your best bet to ensure you always have recent reviews. In this article, we’ll cover why review recency matters, how it affects consumer behavior, and the steps you can take to maintain it for your business. 

To start, let’s discuss why review recency, along with review volume and quality, is an essential component of building and maintaining an effective review and reputation management strategy.

Why review recency is important: 

1. It builds trust with consumers: 

In today’s information-rich consumer environment, reviews are often the quickest and easiest way for people to judge a business. Maintaining review recency proves to prospects that real people are using (and hopefully liking) your product in real-time.

Recent review activity is a form of social proof. It gives your business credibility and is very persuasive in making your product appear trustworthy in the marketplace. 

2. It ensures relevance: 

The freshness of your GBP matters. People want to know what your business is like now, not how it was last year. In fact, more than half of consumers won't even use a business that hasn’t received reviews in the last 2-4 weeks. Therefore, having a selection of up-to-date review content is essential when it comes to leaving a lasting impression. 

3. It increases visibility: 

Google’s mission is to recommend the best experiences to its users, so it tends to favor active GBPs to ensure it’s finding businesses that have been recently verified by other users. In fact, getting a sustained influx of reviews over time is a top Google ranking factor, according to a Whitespark 2023 survey. Therefore, a business that has more frequent and recent reviews is likely to be more visible in search results and ranking. 

4. It boosts the recency effect:

Recent reviews are psychologically more compelling and give your business a leg up when it comes to attracting new customers. This is because of “the recency effect.”

The recency effect is a cognitive bias towards the information presented last. It demonstrates how people place more value on recent experiences or situations than on historical patterns. Essentially, the recency effect suggests to our brains that events of the recent past provide accurate and true information about the near future. 

When applying this theory to reviews and consumer behavior, this means that recent reviews hold more weight for prospective customers deciding whether or not to choose your business, and it’s easy to see why. 

Just think: Let's say you’re choosing a dinner spot. You Google “restaurants near me” and are faced with countless search results in your area. Restaurant A’s most recent review was a 5-star review from three months ago. Restaurant B, on the other hand, received a five-star review just yesterday. Both reviews mention great food and efficient service. 

Even though both restaurants feature glowing reviews from happy customers, you’re still likely to trust that Restaurant B’s review from yesterday is more accurate and reflective of your potential experience than a review from three months ago. It’s just human nature.

While review recency is very important to the growth and success of any local business, ensuring a constant flow of accurate and relevant review content can be a challenge. Here are some steps you can take to maintain recency and ensure a more steady outpour of customer feedback.

Strategies to maintain review recency: 

1. Automate the review request process:

The more people you ask for reviews, the more reviews you’ll get. While it’s a great practice to ask for reviews manually, it can get complicated and be time-consuming. 

Technology has made it easy to automate the review generation process and seamlessly get more reviews. Automation lets you take advantage of every review opportunity while making the process more streamlined, and your success easier to measure. 

There are multiple ways to ask your customers for reviews. Some examples include sending a request by email, attaching QR codes to receipts, and asking via SMS. When automated, each of these communication strategies effectively reaches your customers and drives review recency. Choosing which option to use for your business all comes down to timing and what makes the most sense for your business. 

For example, let’s say you own a fitness center and that, due to New Year's resolutions, you tend to sign more new members in January than at any other time of year. Instead of sending your review requests out all at once, consider spacing them out over the course of a few months. This will give your members time to experience the product, increasing the quality of your reviews. It will also maximize review recency and frequency throughout the year.

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2. Leverage the Peak-End Rule:

The peak-end rule is a theory about a person’s tendency to judge an experience and make memories based on the emotional peak (positive or negative) and its end, rather than averaging every moment. It’s an important rule to keep in mind when it comes to maximizing your review generation strategy. 

To get positive reviews, you have to create a positive customer experience. However, no matter how hard you try, the occasional mistake resulting in a negative review is unavoidable. 

By understanding that different aspects of the customer journey provoke different emotional responses, you can tailor your review requests to reach your customers during a natural high in their experience. 

Essentially, to get more reviews, you need to know when to ask for them. While 67% of happy customers will consider leaving a review, 40% of unhappy customers similarly contemplate leaving a negative review. Being conscious of the peak-end rule and working to end customer interactions on a high will give you a better chance of activating the voice of the happy customer and, in turn, maintaining regular review recency. 

Tip: Combining automation of the review solicitation process with knowledge of the peak-end rule will allow you to truly optimize the customer experience, identify pain points, and improve your business practices overall. It will highlight what elements of the user experience are naturally positive and help you better understand how to improve in the future.

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3. Respond to reviews: 

Review response is one of the most critical and effective ways of maintaining a positive relationship with your customers. When done consistently, responding to reviews can help build your online reputation, heighten credibility, and increase your overall review volume. 

To put things into perspective, 88% of consumers are more likely to use a business if they can see the business owner responds to all reviews. Plus, according to HBR, businesses that respond to reviews see 12% more review volume and a star rating increase of 0.12 stars. 

While the main objective of review response is to make your customers feel heard and appreciated, there are countless other benefits for your business. Here are 6 reasons why you should respond to reviews:

  • Increased trust and credibility 
  • Greater online engagement
  • Improved search ranking
  • A better understanding of customer pain points 
  • Control over your brand narrative
  • Increased conversions

Key Takeaways: 

  • Review recency matters to your customers and is important to establishing a positive and trustworthy online reputation. 
  • Recency affects purchase decisions. Inconsistent reviews can mean the difference between a new and a lost customer. 
  • Getting more reviews, managing those reviews, and committing to a positive customer experience will help you maintain review recency over time.  

Download the local business reputation management playbook to increase ratings and get more reviews.

Emily Keenan

Originally from Scarborough, Maine, I moved to Vermont after graduating from St. Lawrence University, where I received my BA in English and Spanish. I have always been interested in writing and communication, which is what initially drew me to the Review Response Specialist position at Widewail. In my spare time, I can be found reading, playing electric guitar, or strolling/biking around one of Burlington’s many scenic trails. I always welcome the opportunity to talk about my work, and invite anyone with questions or comments to reach out or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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